In my last article, I focused on the continued enjoyment of the artifact system and what types of updates would need to occur for it to stay fun and fresh. But RIFT’s many pastimes need more than one article to fully discuss future possibilities; especially those hinted at by Scott Hartsman in his July 14th RIFT Into the Future! post. There he presents short and long-term goals Trion has for bringing changes to how players can spend their time.
Lets take a look at his comments on uses for experience at level 50 and the idea of Instant Adventures. Both seem to be logical progressions of how game content works currently within Telara and it will be great to see how Trion implements these ideas.
The Experience Void
Everyone has noticed it, and more than a few have wondered why this is always the case within MMOs. Once a player hits the level cap, there suddenly becomes no use for experience. Now, as a mechanic for gaining levels, it’s obvious that experience should stop once a character reaches max level. But experience doesn’t just play that role. It’s largely a reward for completing objectives and represents how your character has learned or discovered something new.
“The experience gain just suddenly stops, yet there continue to be a ton of things to do in the world that would otherwise keep awarding it.”-Hartsman
As Hartsman points out, this certainly doesn’t stop at max level. In most MMOs there is a vast amount of content only available once you reach the cap, so why should your character’s experience stop? There are measures some games have to make up for the lack of quest experience in the way of increased monetary rewards or reputation with a specific faction. But these don’t necessarily mean the same thing to players, however desirable they are in comparison.
While Hartsman’s forum post is scarce on details about what experience at 50 would do for a character, ZAM has a bit more on the ideas Trion has in store.
“You’ll continue to earn experience to collect points that will be spent in new planar attunement trees. The trees will grant you things such as simple bonuses, weapon and spell specializations, and potential ability modifications.”-ZAM
It’s still unclear how these additional trees will vary depending on role and soul, or how many points will be available. It seems unlikely that there will be unique choices for each soul, since that would necessitate creating trees that play to the abilities of all soul combinations. Additionally, if there was only one tree for each role, many of the specializations available within the four roles would have reduced effectiveness based on what kind of options these planar attunement trees offer.
What would be interesting to see is either a unique tree for your “main” soul allowing any build to have relevant bonuses, or a static tree with very general bonuses along the lines of guild perks. This second option may be a little redundant, but for those players not in a guild it would allow some of the benefits (like increased resistances, higher monetary gain from kills, etc) that guilded players have.
A glaring drawback to experience at level 50 is that many players who have been at the cap for a while probably have completed a good portion of the quests that they missed while leveling. Whether it was for notoriety or to get a zone achievement, some players will simply have fewer quests with which to gain this “additional” experience. Unless a lot of new quests would be created or daily quests could reward this experience, there would be a disadvantage for having reached 50 several months ago.
“We’re set on including a continuing reward mechanic for further progression here, without making it a mandatory grind.”-Hartsman
Another concern is how Trion would make it non-mandatory. For those players who enjoy PvP and raiding, it is very much mandatory, since every possible edge you have over your opponent should be pursued. In this way, it would just become another grind required to be at the top of your game, and depending on how much experience would be needed to gain these points, this could be a sizable chunk of time.
Play When You Want
Another interesting section of Hartsman’s post is what they are calling Instant Adventures. Hartsman likens them to zone-wide events in that they would allow for large-scale combat, but says they wouldn’t require you to be in the right place at the right time.
“The idea behind Instant Adventures is that you’re going to be able to come online and indicate your interest in these dynamic events by clicking a button, and you’ll be placed in a group to fight through rapidly escalating encounters that take advantage of rifts and invasions.”-ZAM
ZAM’s additional information gives the impression that these events would include rifts and invasions, but perhaps at the time of your choosing. It is still unclear whether these grouped adventures will be instanced or not but they will have unique rewards to accompany them.
Which brings up the overall theme of Hartsman’s announcement: satisfying the non-raiding player.
“The number of people in a group together will be presented with challenges that the system knows matches their group size.”-ZAM
The majority of RIFT’s post-release content has been aimed at implementing and balancing raid content. Which is fine, but the fact that Instant Adventures will scale based on group size is a great inclusion for casual players who don’t have the time or guild presence to gather 10 or 20 people for an extended period of time.
Tied in with the Chronicles of Telara system, these could alleviate many of the issues people have with finding groups during non-peak hours or on servers with severe deficiencies of a certain role. As Serrain points out in their article, scalable content does come with some problem areas, but if Trion takes the time to thoroughly test and adapt concepts for the RIFT world, these will be a great supplement to standard 5-20 player content.